Gmail, as of now, is one of the most popular webmail clients out there. Since its launch in 2005, it has managed to rekindle the dying interest in web-based email. The Google-owned service provides a huge amount of features to its users; thus, giving it an edge over its competitors like Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and AOL. However, many new users are completely unaware of how to get the most out of Gmail.
So, if you are new to Gmail, or just an advanced beginner, here are some useful tips that could take your Gmail experience up a notch or two:
1. Get organized with Labels
If you are a busy person and are bombarded with huge amount of emails every hour, may be it's time to get a little organized. Inbox is almost like a normal mailbox ( remember snail mail?) but wouldn't it be great if it had little compartments so that you won't have to sort through each mail individually? Labels in Gmail act like those little compartments. Every time a mail arrives, you can set Gmail to sort every email according to a given set of rules. Supposing you want to make sure every mail you get from your bank gets marked as important, you can do so by simply creating a label for it. Here's a quick way to create a label:
Click the 'Labels' drop-down menu or if you have keyboard shortcuts enabled, type l. Or, just click the gear icon -> Mail settings -> Labels.
Then, select 'Manage Labels'.
Now, click on the option that says 'Create New Label'
Type the name of your new label and click 'Ok'
Now, you can edit the label any time to set your own rules for a particular address, a search term or a contact. By enabling some Labs features (we'll talk about them later), you can also set different colors to particular labels. There's also a feature that lets you add nested labels. You can learn more about Labels on Gmail's help page HERE.
2. Import mail from other accounts
If you have multiple email addresses or have just switched from another email provider, you can easily set Gmail to import mails as well as your contacts from other accounts. What's more, you can also configure Gmail to add a custom label like 'Hotmail' to all your imported mails. Gmail can import mails from AOL, Yahoo, Hotmail and many more providers. To learn more about how to do that, check out this article.
3. Enable IMAP, POP and SMTP
We've already discussed about the best mail clients for Linux. If you happen to use one of them and don't know how to get your Gmail working with it, don't worry. Gmail works with almost all the offline mail clients out there thanks to its support for protocols like IMAP, POP and SMTP. All you have to do is enable those protocols for your Gmail account and the rest is easy. An article that helps you do that can be found HERE. Then, you can configure your mail client to work with your Gmail account by following the instructions given HERE.
Note: If you're using the latest version of Thunderbird or Outlook, you won't have to go through the hassle of entering the settings. Just enter your Name and Email address and the client takes care of everything else.
4. Keyboard shortcuts
If you want to be a true Gmail ninja then you must learn all the keyboard shortcuts. The shortcuts are easy to learn, and you won't get an RSI while using them. Before you start, you'll need to enable the keyboard shortcuts first. Here's how to do it:
Login to Gmail and click on 'Settings', then click the radio button that says 'Keyboard shortcuts on' in the 'Keyboard shortcuts configuration' section and click on 'Save Changes' at the bottom.
Now that you're done enabling all the shortcuts, it's time to get to know all the combinations. A nice printable cheatsheet that will teach you all the important keyboard shortcuts that you need to know can be found HERE.
5. Enable Labs features
Gmail, since its launch, has been coming up with some interesting experimental features that adventurous users would love to try out. Some of them add to Gmail's functionality, while some others are pretty useless. Lifehacker has mentioned a list of the essential labs features you should enable. Also, Matt Cutts has recorded a nice little video telling us about his favorite lab features. He also explains how to enable labs if you are new to Gmail.
N.B: Offline Labs feature that Matt mentions in that video has been discontinued by Google.
You may also check out: 5 Lesser Known Google Services that Deserve More Attention